|dc.description||In addition to the important role instructional designers play in the design and development of instructional products and programs, they also act in communities of practice as agents in changing the way traditional colleges and universities implement their missions. Designers work directly with faculty and clients to help them think more critically about the needs of all learners, issues of access, social and cultural implications of information technologies, alternative learning environments (e.g., workplace learning), and related policy development. As such, through reflexive practice, interpersonal agency and critical practice they are important participants in shaping interpersonal, institutional and societal agendas for change.
This chapter will draw on the stories of instructional designers in higher education to highlight their interpretations of their own agency in each context. In essence, this chapter deviates from the understanding of a case study as occurring in a single setting in that it draws on the experiences of several instructional designers in several contexts.
Rather, we accept Yin’s (2003) definition of case study as a research strategy, that is, as an empirical inquiry that “investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context” (p. 13) and view our study in this regard as a multiple-case design with the instructional designer as the unit of analysis. Taken as a group, these designers tell a strong story of struggle and agency in higher education contexts, and it is a story that portrays designers as active, moral, political and influential in activating change. So from their rich descriptions of practice, we attempt in this chapter to weave a composite case study of an instructional designer’s experience that is true to the collective narrative of the designers we’ve interviewed. Any single person’s story of agency is by necessity narrow and contextually bound, and these are both the greatest strengths and limitations of individual cases. We hope that by viewing the stories of instructional designers through the macro lens of narrative, we can better illustrate the scope of agency and community that instructional designers practice each day.||en